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  • Writer's pictureMichael Roberts FPFS

Coronavirus - Support for businesses

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

Here follows a summary of our understanding of the main announcements recently, to help businesses in the current climate.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees (UK)

The Government will legislate to allow smaller businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The details of the scheme are:

· The refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP for each eligible employee who has been off work sick or self-isolating because of COVID-19;

· Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible and this will be determined by the number of people employed on 28 February 2020;

· Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19;

· Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note; and

· Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force.

The refund scheme is still being developed and the Government says it will work with employers to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (UK)

A temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme delivered by the British Business Bank will launch next week (starting 23 March 2020) to support businesses across the UK to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan subject to a cap on claims for each lender to give them the confidence to continue providing finance to SMEs.

The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee and the scheme will support loans up to £5 million in value.

The Government will cover the first six months of interest payments on these loans.

Further information is available here.

Off-payroll working rules (IR35) (UK)

The Government has announced that the changes to the off-payroll working rules that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.

Support for businesses paying tax (UK)

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Any business concerned about not being able to pay tax because of COVID-19 should call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

For more information, please see our separate article on this subject here.

Business grants (England)

The Government will make available grants of £10,000 for businesses eligible for small business rate relief or rural rate relief.

Business Rates (England)

Some businesses will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year from 1 April 2020:

  • Businesses that get the retail discount for business rates will get 100% relief.

  • Businesses in the retail sector with property with a rateable value of £51,000 or more and businesses in the leisure or hospitality sectors may get a 100% discount on their business rates.

  • Nurseries will get 100% relief.

We expect the Government to give more guidance to local authorities on this very shortly. 

Further grants will also be made available to some businesses including:

£10,000 for retail, hospitality or leisure businesses with property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 whether or not they are entitled to small business rate relief or rural rate relief; and £25,000 for retail, hospitality or leisure businesses with property with a rateable value of between £14,999 and £51,000.

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